Or are you looking for Search the Archives?

Please complete the form to email this item.

Cocktail dress and jacket
  • Cocktail dress and jacket
    Dessès, Jean, born 1904 - died 1970
  • Enlarge image

Cocktail dress and jacket

  • Place of origin:

    Paris (made)

  • Date:

    1951 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Dessès, Jean, born 1904 - died 1970 (designer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Silk, silk organza and velvet ribbon, pleated

  • Credit Line:

    Worn and given by HRH Princess Margaret

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

The overlapping, curved pleats formed into scalloped panels on this bodice front suggest a stylised rendition of receding waves, an impression further enhanced by the deep sea-blue of the fine, slightly stiff, silk fabric. The controlled movement on the curved, fitted bodice is achieved by the dextrous pleating of fabric cut on the bias, fronted with no visible seams.

The scalloped pleating encloses the front torso up to the low, strapless décolletage, and continues across the back in straight, horizontal lines. The bodice fits the figure tightly to the hips and from there the skirt falls in long, soft pleats.

Physical description

Cocktail dress of blue silk and jacket of blue silk organza.

Place of Origin

Paris (made)


1951 (made)


Dessès, Jean, born 1904 - died 1970 (designer)

Materials and Techniques

Silk, silk organza and velvet ribbon, pleated

Marks and inscriptions

'Jean Desses 17 Avenue Matignon Paris'

Object history note

Registered File number 1985/2045.
Worn by HRH Princess Margaret.

Descriptive line

Cocktail dress of silk and jacket of silk organza, designed by Jean Dessès, Paris, 1951.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Wilcox, C. & Mendes, V. Modern Fashion in Detail. London: V&A Publications, 1991, p. 36, ISBN 1 85177 032 1
Kensington Palace dress collection
Stanfill, S. 'Jean Dessès' in Wilcox, C., ed., The Golden Age of Couture: Paris and London 1947-1957. London: V&A Publications, 2007. p. 84-5 and pl. 3.17

Labels and date

[Cocktail Dress case]

Afternoon dress (robe après-midi habillée)
Jean Dessès (1904-70)
About 1951

The London Illustrated magazine said that after her eighteenth birthday Princess Margaret began to appear in public as a 'grown up personality'. 'She experimented boldly with her clothes and hairstyles, and adopted the then very New Look.' The bodice of this dress is achieved by the dextrous pleating of fabric cut on the bias.


Given by Princess Margaret
V&A: T.237-1986 [22/09/2007-06/01/2008]


Silk (textile); Organza


Pleating; Velvet weave


Fashion; Women's clothes; Royalty; Evening wear

Production Type

Haute couture


Textiles and Fashion Collection

Large image request

Please confirm you are using these images within the following terms and conditions, by acknowledging each of the following key points:

Please let us know how you intend to use the images you will be downloading.